Dreamweaving Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

One night last week I had a great dream. I dreamed I had auditioned and been selected as the lead singer in a great band. The band's sound was sort of a Little Big Town meets Dixie Chicks - kind of a roots/folk/country/rock sound. All the vocalists and musicians in the band were first-rate. I kept marveling that I was allowed to be among them and yet they kept reassuring me all through the dream that I had been CHOSEN to be the lead singer among many other candidates. In my dream we started rehearsing and the result was magical. The band was in a groove. Everyone was in the pocket, grooving together and making awesome music. I was singing notes I'd never even attempted before and sounding better than I've ever sounded. It was a moment of pure joy that comes from making music together when everything is hitting on all cylinders.

I tell you that because that dream is such a departure from my usual dreams about music. Usually I have nightmares (usually the night before a worship service or performance) where I'm trying to get to a gig and keep getting lost. Or I'm about to go on stage and can't find my charts. Or I start playing random songs in the worship service that the band has never heard and they're struggling to keep up with me and wondering if I've lost my mind. Those are the dreams you awake from in a cold sweat, relieved it's not real.

In last week's worship service our scripture of the day was from the second chapter of Acts. In this passage, Peter addresses all those in the upper room and quotes from the prophet Joel. "In the last days, God says, I will pour out my spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams."

This scripture tells us that dreaming is a gift of the Spirit! Not necessarily the dreams we have when we're asleep at night, but the dreams in our hearts that we have for our lives, our families, our churches, our communities, our world. In our culture "dreamers" are sometimes looked down upon. Better to be a practical "doer" than sit around daydreaming. But I was reminded by this scripture that dreams are often planted by the Holy Spirit. So we need to cultivate them, think on them, not be afraid to dream a little. The world needs dreamers, especially the dreams that are inspired by the Spirit.

My dream about singing in the "perfect band" re-inspired me in my music ministry. It reminded me of the pure joy of making music. I believe that dream was inspired by the Holy Spirit, since it was such a departure from my usual musical nightmares that reveal my anxieties and insecurities.

So listen for what the Holy Spirit is whispering in your ear. Let's all kick back a little today and dream.

posted by Stephanie on 06/05/2009

A moment of grace Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

This week hubby's out of town, so it's been especially hectic. No back-up for mama! Plus I'm battling yet another sinus infection. Sigh. The baby had a fever last night and it took a while to rock her to sleep. She's cutting four teeth and the fever is probably related to that (although pediatricians swear it's not...) Poor little thing. As I often say, "sometimes it's hard to be a baby."
Then around 3 am I was awakened by my six-year old who'd had a bad dream. As I hugged her I realized she was also burning up with a fever. I gave her some tylenol and said yes to her request that she sleep in my bed.
Around 5 am she woke me up and asked if I'd please quit snoring. Hey, did I mention I have a sinus infection?
Then around 7 am my three-year old came into the room to get in bed with me. She wasn't going to be left out of the fun. So with the three of us in there, I knew none of us were going to be able to get back to sleep. Much stealing of covers, poking, kicking and complaining ensued.
After several attempts by me to get them to stop arguing and PLEASE go back to sleep (every attempt less patient than the last), I said if they couldn't be quiet to go back to their own rooms.
They left my room and I expected to hear an argument break out any minute. Both girls are very strong willed and all they seem to do is fight lately. But all I heard was silence, a sure sign that trouble is brewing.
A few minutes later, here came my two girls carrying a tray with breakfast in bed for mommy! They had brought a bowl of cereal, a banana and a mug of orange juice. Hayley apologetically explained they brought juice because they didn't know how to make coffee. (I breathed a sigh of relief that they didn't attempt it.) The cutest part: they used the broiler pan as a tray.
Just when you think it's going to be a bad day, you get surprised by something wonderful. Thank you, God, for moments of grace.

posted by Stephanie on 05/14/2009

Two Sides Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

I'm preparing for Gospel Music Association (GMA) in Nashville next week. I'll be performing my songs, doing interviews, meeting and greeting and hopefully running into some of my heroes in Christian music. I'm thinking about all the details that go along with this event, like what I'll wear, what songs I'll sing, what I'll say...And I have to chuckle a little because all those things I'll be doing next week are so far from my normal day-to-day life.

Yesterday I didn't even have time to take a shower in between caring for my kids and household chores. Today I managed a shower, but had to miss the weekly staff meeting at church so I could take care of my three-year old's case of strep throat. My life is far from the "glamour" I'll be experiencing at GMA next week.

Yet both those sides of my life represent dreams that came true. I'll have to pinch myself several times at GMA to make sure I'm actually there and not dreaming it. But I also pinch myself when I go in to my 8 month old's room every morning and she smiles at me. Or when I show my daughter how to play the ABC song on the piano, or when my daughter runs to me when she gets off the bus. These moments also seem "too good to be true" sometimes.

Twenty years ago I never would have dreamed that sharing my life with my husband and kids could be as thrilling as singing and recording music. Since I first began singing and playing I've hoped that God would help me use music to minister to people. Along the way, God also surprised me with the dream of having a family. I like how God leads us down paths we never thought we'd take.

I love doing my music and I love being a mom. Both can be exhilarating and rewarding. And both can be exhausting, thankless, hard work.

Pray for me next week while I'm at GMA. And pray for me on my journey as a mom. I need grace in both sides of my life.

Blessings to you, Stephanie

posted by Stephanie on 04/14/2009

Sleepwalking Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Haven't updated my blog for awhile, but I have a good excuse. On August 4, we welcomed Baby Newton #3 to our family, so needless to say, my time has been occupied. It was a long, HOT summer and a tough pregnancy. (I DO NOT recommend being 9 months pregnant in Atlanta in July!) But it's so worth all the uncomfortable inconveniences of pregnancy when you hold that newborn in your arms!

It's funny that you remember how wonderful and sweet it is to hold each of your babies. But you tend to forget just how exhausting those first few months can be. Who knew one could actually function on so little sleep?

I was driving around doing errands last week (pridefully) congratulating myself on how I was NOT tired. It had been weeks since I'd regularly gotten more than a few hours of sleep at one time, yet I was feeling perky, optimistic and pretty energetic. I was thinking I have this motherhood thing licked! I really am becoming a supermom...

I decided to go through a Zaxby's drive-thru to pick up lunch for my two older daughters. After ordering, I pulled up to the window and paid for the food. The friendly Zaxby's lady gave me my change, drinks and receipt. I promptly drove off, not realizing she had not yet handed me my bag of food. Back out on the highway, I glanced over at the driver's side, saw no Zaxby's bag, and realized my mistake.

"No problem," I thought. "I have the receipt with me. I'll just go back to Zaxby's and pick up the food."

By the time I turned around and got off the highway, there was a long line at the drive-thru. So I decided to just go inside and pick up my food at the counter. Very flustered by this time, I rushed in, shoved my receipt in front of the guy at the counter and said, "Here's my receipt. I'm the one who drove off in the drive-thru without my food."

With a puzzled and amused look on his face, the guy said, "That's fine, lady. But this is Wendy's, not Zaxby's."

I sheepishly looked around and realized I was indeed standing in Wendy's. I also noticed a restaurant full of people staring at me...

I walked next door to Zaxby's and picked up the long lost back of food.

Thought you tired moms (and dads) might enjoy that story. Now that I've had a good laugh at my own expense, I think I'll go take a nap...

posted by Stephanie on 09/25/2008

His Eye is on the Sparrow Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Recently our pastor preached a sermon based on Matthew 6, part of what is called Jesus' "sermon on the mount." It was the familiar passage that begins with "do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear..." So easy to read those words, but so hard to live out!

Lately I've been extremely preoccupied with those concerns in life-especially where I'm going to live. My husband and I are involved in the sale of our home and the purchase of another home. That process has come with all the ups and downs and usual stresses. It's been a roller coaster of emotion trying to buy a home and sell our existing one, especially since I'm 7 months pregnant with Baby #3. I'm supposed to be nesting right now, not worrying about where that nest is going to be!

In my blessed and fortunate life, I must admit I feel a little uneasy asking God for help in situations like this. It's not that I don't trust Him. It's just that with all the problems going on in the world, surely He must have other things to attend to (i.e. world hunger, war, genocide, just to name a few) than my (relatively) small problem of where my family and I are going to live.

And yet, I picture Jesus as he stands and preaches to the people in Matthew 6:25. I imagine Jesus, fully divine, yet fully human, looking out on the crowd with compassion. He knew what it felt like to be hungry; to be tired; to need a place to rest; to need a home. I imagine Him taking a deep breath and being filled with all the compassion that His heavenly Father has for us as He spoke these words, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" Later on in the passage Jesus says, "Seek first his kingdom his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself."

Jesus is obviously the ultimate authority on the opinions of God, so based on this passage, I see that even though God is SO BIG, He still cares about the smallest of our concerns and understands that as humans, we do tend to get wrapped up in the everyday problems of life. There's an old song that says "His eye is on the sparrow, but I know He watches me." He cares when we hurt and when we are worried. And He is there to help us sort it all out. Just one more of the awesome, really cool things about God.

Maybe next time I'll be writing to you from our new home. But in the meantime, I'll try not to worry about what tomorrow will bring.

posted by Stephanie on 09/25/2008

My experiences at GMA week Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Just wanted to tell you about my experience last week at Gospel Music Assn. Week in Nashville (also known as GMA week). I have always dreamed of attending this annual event where all of the Christian music industry gathers in Nashville for a week of celebrating the Christian music industry. I've always joked that I'd like to just roam the halls at GMA carrying someone else's briefcase! But I found myself there as an "official" artist to launch some PR for Fairytale Life ("official" meaning I had a real, live artist badge. I had to keep looking down at it to make sure it was real.) I did several radio and TV interviews and generally had a wonderful time. The interview thing was a little intimidating at first, but after awhile I relaxed and seemed to get the hang of it. Talking has never been my problem...shutting me up; now that's my problem.

As the culminating highlight of the week, my husband came to Nashville and we attended the Dove Awards together. Another dream come true to attend the Doves! Among the great performances, I got to see a special tribute to Michael W. Smith. The tribute honored Michael's 25 years in Christian music. My own personal hero, Amy Grant, was part of the tribute, as well as American Idol alums Mandisa, Chris Sligh and Phil Stacy. The tribute to Michael ended with everyone in the whole building singing "Agnus Dei" led by Michael on the piano. In the middle of this glitzy awards show, an awesome moment of worship broke out!

I arrived home exhausted, exhilarated and grateful for this amazing opportunity God put in front of me.

posted by Stephanie on 05/02/2008

Winter Blues Subscribe To My Blog (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

Winter can be a very difficult time for me. I tend to be plagued from time to time with periods of depression. Some of these episodes occur during winter when the weather tends to be dark and dreary. Some episodes stem from stress and difficulties in my life, and some episodes seem to just hit me out of the blue without any apparent reason.

Recently I read about Amy Grant's struggle with periods of depression in her new book Mosaic: Pieces of My Life So Far. Amy has been a hero of mine for as long as I can remember and I was struck by how her struggles were so similar to my own. In the book, she gives a list of things she tries to keep in mind when going through dark periods. It spoke to me in a powerful way and comforted me through a particularly dark time. Here's what Amy says:

"The good news is, I've learned to recognize it [depression] and not be ashamed of it. I know as surely as it comes, it will go. In the meantime, here's the talk I give myself:

Don't be so hard on yourself.

Simplify the to-do list.

Be grateful for unavoidable responsibility. It makes you move.

Be careful what you reach for.

If necessary, be willing to say, " I'm having a hard time, and it's not you."

My great-uncle Dandy was right. A brisk walk helps.

Make contact with other people. Hear about somebody else's day."

from Mosaic: Pieces of My Life So Far by Amy Grant

Whether you're suffering from winter blues, or just going through a hard time I hope it helps to hear Amy's advice. It has helped me, as well as the knowledge that no matter what I go through, God is with me. He is faithful and He cares. Many of the Psalms talk about God "lifting us out of the pit." Those writers certainly must have known what depression is like to depict such an image! Thank God for his grace, present in every moment.

posted by Stephanie on 01/25/2008